I have not felt peace about publishing anything for quite sometime, but today I’d get no peace if I didn’t. We’ve had quite a cold snap here recently, so cold that it caused every arthritic joint in my body to lock down. I spent three days in bed hardly moving, struggling to even get myself to the bathroom and back. This morning, I finally managed the grueling climb up the stairs, but spent the morning in considerable pain and with limited mobility. A dear friend and prayer partner prayed with me over the phone, as we often do, and as she was praying for me I felt the pain leave the very worst spot, then dissipate from the rest of my body. My breath caught in my throat, and I took a few steps without my cane. I squatted down to the floor and stood back up without pain, turned my neck every direction. It was as if chains had fallen from my body. With my friend still on the phone I sprinted up the second set of stair and knocked on my upstairs neighbors’ door to share my joy with them. I picked up my fifty pound five-year-old and swung him around. I have not lifted him without crippling pain in years. I spent the remainder of my day calling family and friends to share the wonderful news, and doing things I have not been able to for far too long. I had a dance party with my kids. I scrubbed the kitchen floor. So many, many things. Life is good.
You can be going along, perfectly fine, and then WHAM, it sneaks up behind you and clubs you over the head, and the wound is fresh again. Tonight I found myself blindsided with grief for a dear old friend. We were supposed to raise our babies together and grow to be snarky old ladies. We were going to be the Golden Girls. I miss her so, but I thought I had entered Acceptance. Then tonight out of nowhere, I felt that same gut punch as if the loss had just happened. And in my hurt, God sent a friend with unexpected words to comfort me. This friend was a beacon of hope in my hour of need, a reminder that life goes on and old hurts do heal.
For anyone else who may be facing this unpleasant (to say the least) combo.
One of my concerns when surgical menopause became necessary was, would my breastmilk supply be affected? My surgeon assured me that lactation is not controlled by estrogen; I might have a dip in supply, but should have no trouble nursing as long as baby and I desired. With my daughter’s second birthday coming only a few weeks after the surgery, a dip in supply didn’t worry me. I did not foresee the added pain and difficulty this minor side effect would bring.
This is not the first child I have allowed to dry nurse for comfort as my supply dwindled, so I knew it would hurt. But my son was generally satisfied with dry nursing for comfort. He fussed a little the first week or two that it started to happen, but he adjusted quickly and, shortly after my milk dried up completely, he lost interest. This poor child is NOT happy. She pulls away and tells me, “Mommy, I sad! Nurse empty!” And cries. She’s breaking my heart. I just have to tell her “I know, baby,” as I choke back my own tears. This just feels like one more area where I am falling short as a mother. My kids are generally happy and healthy. They are smart and polite. There are a lot of things I’ve done right by them, but oh how the devil likes to throw my shortcomings in my face. Especially those of my body, the ones that are beyond my control. Oh, he just loves to make me feel like dirt when I cannot meet my own June Cleaver standards. But you know what, you ol devil? Christ’s grace is sufficient. I am sufficient. This is not going to ruin my child and I certainly won’t let it ruin me.
I went grocery shopping by myself today. Pushed a full cart up and down the aisles. It seems like such a little thing, an ordinary, any day kind of thing. But for me, today, it was special. A little taste of normal. I felt like me. Trying to strike that delicate balance between healthy and affordable, just like old times. I bought a few simple staples and daydreamed about making regular meals for my family again. Simple things filled my cart, spaghetti noodles, a carton of OJ, nothing exciting, at least not for you. It feels good to feel just a little bit normal, just for a little while again.
is why I’ve been a little quiet lately. Well, part of the reason anyway. I caught it in the early stages so it is reversible, just have to take it easy on the typing for a while. Recovery from surgery is going well, had a minor setback but really nothing to worry about. Let’s just say dealing with a clingy feverish baby in the middle of the night during night sweats is, um, difficult? Unpleasant? You do the math on that one. But we got through it, and after a few days for Mommy and baby to recover we are all doing OK again. I may be able to return to work part-time soon, covering that decision in prayer and would appreciate any of you joining me. God is doing some great things here, oh how I wish I could tell you more. Please pray. I have learned after many years to recognize the attacks of the Devil, and to know that means we are doing exactly what we are supposed to. Pray no weapon formed against this family would prosper.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that a few months ago my husband lost his job and we lost our house. We moved into a one bedroom apartment with our children and pets. While this is certainly not ideal, we’ve experienced some unexpected benefits. To save space, we bought my son a loft bed that has a bookshelf and play space underneath and put it in the living room. He thinks having his bed in the living room is SO COOL. He’s never been a good sleeper, but he has slept better and slept in his own bed more consistently since we moved than he ever has in his short life. The cats like to sleep on his bed now since it is up high, which has helped them warm up to him and is also super cute. It’s much easier to put him to bed on the nights when he falls asleep on the couch; his bed is only two feet away instead of up a flight of stairs. And all of the children get to enjoy the playspace under his bed freely, since it is in the shared family area. They call it “the cave.”
Some other surprise benefits: our upstairs neighbors got a swingset for the back yard, which our children are free to use any time. They have LOVED it. The upstairs neighbors also have a dog who is good with kids, so they have become best buds. And really, although it is a little cramped and often feels a bit crowded, we’ve been very happy here. The kids don’t seem to mind the small quarters most of the time, usually only when the weather’s been nasty and we’ve been trapped inside a lot. God’s grace has covered us during this lean time, and we are blessed.
The surgery went well. It took three times longer than expected because they had more material to remove and clean out than originally anticipated, but it’s over now. Pain is mostly under control. All is going alright. I will post a more substantial entry as soon as possible. Thank you all for your prayers.
Menopause. Even though approximately half of the population will go through it at some point, it’s somehow taboo. Oh sure, women joke about the hot flashes and the night sweats. You may hear a random tidbit here or there, or maybe you witnessed the crazy mood swings when someone close to you went through it, but we don’t really talk about it. My mother spent a lot of time in bed during the worst part of hers. It’s not pretty, so polite company doesn’t discuss it.
In all likelihood, I will begin menopause in exactly six days. Most women don’t have the luxury of knowing exactly when this beast will strike, but I do. I only have one ovary left, and it needs to come out. I’m 30 (ish), so young to go through this major life change. But I welcome it. For me, it will not signify the end of childbearing (that ship has sailed already). It won’t mean I’m getting old. It will simply mean a new challenge, and at the end of that challenge, great physical and emotional rewards. It means an end to some of my suffering. I can’t wait. I may not be around for a little while, but don’t forget about me, OK? I’ll write as soon after the surgery as I reasonably can. And if I don’t get the surgery, for whatever reason, you better believe you’ll hear from me.
11 Not that I speak [a]from want, for I have learned to be [b]content in whatever circumstances I am.12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
This scripture has always baffled me. I have experienced agonies in my adult life that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. I have hit ten on the pain scale more than once. A handful of times I have cried out to God for relief for so long that I’ve switched to praying for death. There have even been times I’ve been suicidal; these particular migraines are sometimes referred to as “shotgun headaches” because of their propensity to drive sufferers to the very pit of utter hopelessness and desperation. And God has the nerve to quietly, gently remind me of this scripture. In exasperation I ask him, “How am I supposed to be content in Hell?! Because that’s what it feels like, Lord. I can’t imagine worse pain than the worst of my own. I cannot comprehend it. How could anyone possibly be content like this?!” But He only whispers, when He answers at all, You shall learn to be content with whatever I give you, whatever you face. You will learn. And it’s meant to be a comfort, but being the bullheaded child that I am I cross my arms and stomp my foot, saying “LOOOOooooooOOOrd, I don’t WANT to be content! I don’t want to be a saint! I just want the pain to end! No, I don’t want this growth, please just let me be a good wife and mother and do the things I want to do that are supposed to be Godly! Let me be the Proverbs 31 woman! Why would you place me in this role, and give me these desires to do it well, then take my abilities? Why am I even here anymore if I am only going to suffer and be a burden? Why did you open my womb only to leave me unable to raise these precious gifts? I’m failing them, Lord, and I don’t understand. How can I possibly be content here alone in the dark, while someone else raises my babies? While they cry for me, and I cry for them? I’m failing as a wife, as a woman, as a human being. And I KNOW I still have worth, Lord. I know my worth does not depend on what I do. But why are you keeping me here to do nothing but suffer and drain?”
9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [a]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with [b]insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
I cried out to Him again. “How am I strong right now, Lord? Where is Your strength in this?” Then, one day, He introduced me to someone whose suffering was greater than my own, and it had plagued her for decades. And I was humbled. I remembered her every time my own suffering began again, remembered how much worse life was for her. That day, there was a shift in my spirit. Instead of praying for my own pain to end, instead of crying out on my own behalf, I began to pray for her. Fervent, broken prayers, day and night. And God honored those prayers. God used our pain to reach into each other’s darkest places. Now, my pain has a purpose. God has given me an intercessory prayer ministry I never could have entered otherwise. And while I’m not yet to the place I can say I have learned to be content, whatever my circumstance, I am getting there. Now, I believe that can come to pass in my own life. I’m still fighting with God about it, after all I am stubborn and kind of a spiritual idiot. But He’s working on that, too.
Sometimes Real Life happens and it gets in the way of blogging. My last week has been very Real. Here’s what I haven’t been blogging about:
1) Boring, unpleasant health stuff. Migraines, an injury, illness, the whole shebang.
2) Work. My husband started his new job and has been away more, so I have been busy with the children. I’ve also been working on a side project to try and make a little extra money.
3) Arts & Crafts. I’ve been writing a book for some time and have been really focused on that this week. I’ve also made some fun items for a care package, and I’m knitting a little something just for me. Like many yarn crafters, I rarely make anything just for myself, but I found some beautiful unique yarn several months ago that I fell in love with. I’ve been searching for just the right project for it, and finally found a suitable one.
4) Prayer and study. God has been reaching and calling to me in this season, and I have hungered for Him. He has brought us so many blessings in this season that no one would choose for their family. He’s allowed me to participate in some exciting areas of ministry, and in the process my family underwent the most powerful spiritual attack we have ever seen. But God opened up the heavens and kept us safe. We experienced many wonderful surprises and crazy blessings.
So, that’s what’s been going on on this side of the blog. I hope to share some more details of what God is doing in, for, and with my family soon. Bless you all.